The West Lothian Referendum Question
Alex Salmond and the stinking fish | William Rees-Mogg - Times Online
Last week Mr Brown accepted the reform treaty but he has backed out of his party’s commitment to a referendum, on the false pretence that the two treaties are different. This is not an action in good faith. If he persists in it, he deserves to be removed from office. For a man to obtain an advantage by a trick is inherently dishonest. For a prime minister to do so destroys his covenant of trust with the people he is governing.
Most of the parliamentary gossip is not concerned with the morality of the Prime Minister’s conduct, though there is a moral issue. In the lobbies they ask the pragmatic question: “Can he get away with it?” I am not sure that he will. It is quite unusual for a prime minister to be distrusted or despised by a significant part of the population and regarded essentially as a cheat.
Successful leadership depends on respect, on the moral consent of the governed. Even at his lowest point, John Major never found himself in this position. He – disgracefully enough – refused a referendum on the Maastricht treaty, but he had never promised one.
There does, however, seem to be a constitutional as well as a moral obstacle to Mr Brown’s policy. The treaty recasts Europe to bring the EU much closer to a United States of Europe ....
Yet these key transfers of sovereignty from Westminster to Brussels seem to include powers that have been devolved to Edinburgh. One example might prove to be the extension of qualified majority voting in the area of tourism. Will Scottish tourism become a European competence, or will it remain devolved to Scotland? Further examination of the reform treaty seems certain to discover that it would have a far reaching impact on Scottish self-rule. There is no red line to protect Scotland.
The Scots had a referendum to approve devolution. Any substantial reduction in the scope of Scottish self-government would require a further referendum. Mr Brown is refusing a referendum to the UK. Can he also refuse one to Scotland, a nation with its own government and First Minister, Alex Salmond?
Can Mr Salmond and the SNP allow Scottish powers to be transferred to Europe without Scottish consent? If that consent were sought from the Edinburgh Parliament, would there be a majority to ratify the reform treaty, in respect of Scottish affairs, without a referendum? In the UK Mr Brown may have the power to refuse a referendum, but Mr Salmond may decide to call one in Scotland, as a powerful precedent for the referendum he is already seeking on Scottish independence. I do not see who could stop him – it would not be the Black Watch. ...
This could be Gordon Brown's Maastricht - Telegraph
Imagine Mr Salmond, a brilliantly mischievous tactician, going to Mr Brown's constituency and telling the voters of Kirkcaldy that he, as First Minister of Scotland, wanted to give them the opportunity to vote on their destiny in Europe: an opportunity that their own MP, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was stubbornly denying them.